Cruel Sadist is another one of the designer cards introduced in M15, created by long time magic lover and creator of Binding of Isaac, Edmund McMillen.

As someone who actually has played Binding of Isaac, I see where the card is coming from. As you can see here, he actually talks through the card.

the cards name became Cruel Sadist, a psychotic child that feeds off the play to grow strong then unleashes it on creatures or players, i had pushed the idea of the card being a succubus or vampire type creature that would drink your blood and spit it at stuff, but wizards liked the idea of a crazed child assassin a lot more.

I like the flavor behind this card – she causes everyone pain, not just your opponent.  He compares the card he wanted to create to something like Guul Draz Assassin.

That being said, I’m not really a huge fan of this card. Let’s go over the card mechanically.

B for a 1/1 Human Assassin isn’t bad. Being a human gives it access to some human tribal stuff, though definitely not in M15 limited.

The abilities are where I get a little iffy on this card.

B, tap, and pay 1 life: put a +1/+1 counter on Cruel Sadist.

2B, tap, remove X +1/+1 counters from Cruel Sadist: Cruel Sadist deals X damage to target creature.

If the card was more like the original concept, it would be much more appealing.

Black Child
T: pay 1 life put a +1+1 counter on this
T: remove X counters from this to do X damage to target creature or player

While this is much more powerful than the other printing, I see why they powered down the original. With some untap tricks or just the ability to put +1/+1 counters on creatures (which several cards in green do in M15 limited) it would be at least moderately abusable in limited.

The added mana cost and the adjustment to the ability to only hit creatures is what really drains the ability of its flavor – if you’re paying your own life to satisfy your creature’s sadistic desire, and it doesn’t let you hit your opponent?

The main problem with the card is the fact that it’s at rare. At uncommon, this card wouldn’t get as much dislike, but all but one of the designer cards are printed at rare (Xathrid Slyblade is printed at uncommon).

It’s a pretty cool card that could definitely see Commander play in something like Ghave, Guru of Spores that can put counters on it without having to pay life. Sadly, it does deal damage instead of -x/-x like Guul Draz Assassin does. When it comes to mono-black, I’ll stick to my assassin.

Until next time,

– SolemnParty